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Few Minutes Series-Geography(5th April)

Geography

National Mission on Edible Oils

Background

  • Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala are major Oil palm growing States and account 98% of total production.
  • The reasons behind the slow pace of development of oil palm in India are manifold, the most significant being the lack of assured price for the FFBs[Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs)] for the oil palm farmers and the uncertainty in the payment of price of FFBs since it is linked to the landed CPO[Crude Palm Oil (CPO)]  price which is prone to major fluctuations in the payment. Further there is no support from the Government of India for the FFB price to the farmer.
  • India is dependent on imports to meet its edible oil requirements and is the largest importer of edible oils in the world – Palm Oil is 55% of India’s edible oil imports.
  • The agreements which India had signed with Malaysia and Indonesia way back in 2010 was not allowing India to raise duties  – Period of agreement now came to and end.
  • Case of EU + Biodiesel + Indonesia and Malaysia- palm oil destined to become biofuel.
  • The Government has assessed that a total area of around 28 lakh hectares in the country and around 9.62 lakh hectares for the North East alone fit for oil palm cultivation .
  • The soil and climatic conditions were suitable for oil palm plantation, with high rainfall doing away with the need for irrigation which could suck out groundwater.

Context

  • National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) is a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a special focus on the North east region and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with a focus on increasing area and productivity of oilseeds and Oil Palm. 
  • The scheme basically aims at self-reliance in edible oil and has been allocated an outlay of Rs. 11, 040 crore over a five-year period.
  • The aim of the scheme is to raise the domestic production of palm oil by three times to 11.20 lakh tonnes by 2025-26 and to 28 lakh tonnes by 2029-30.
  • Note : The proposed scheme will subsume the current National Food Security Mission-Oil Palm programme.

Scheme Components

  • Price assurance : The oil palm farmers produce Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs) from which oil is extracted by the industry. Presently the prices of these FFBs are linked to the international CPO prices fluctuations.   For the first time, the Government of India will give a price assurance to the oil palm farmers for the FFBs. This will be known as the Viability Price (VP).   This will protect the farmers from the fluctuations of the international CPO  prices and protect him from the volatility. 
  • Assistance for inputs/interventions

 

Important Points

  • Impact on community ownership of tribal lands, as well as the fact that the oil palm is a water-guzzling, monoculture crop with a long gestation period unsuitable for small farmers.
  • Focus areas were “biodiversity hotspots and ecologically fragile” and oil palm plantations would denude forest cover and destroy the habitat of endangered wildlife.
  • The palm is an invasive species. –  It’s not a natural forest product of northeastern India and its impact on our biodiversity as well as on soil conditions has to be analysed even if it is grown in non-forest areas.

Important Points   – Case Study

  • Sri Lanka – Although it shares similarly suitable climatic conditions, Sri Lanka has recently disavowed oil palm, with an announcement to raze existing plantations and ban palm oil imports as the crop has replaced more environmentally friendly and employment generating plantation crops, dried up local streams, and shows signs of becoming an invasive species threatening native plants and animals.

Malaysia and Indonesia

  • The two Southeast Asian countries produce 85% of the world’s palm oil, a ubiquitous ingredient in processed foods, cosmetics and biodiesel. But production of the commodity has long been associated with the wholesale clearing of tropical rainforests, burning of peatlands, destruction of endangered wildlife habitat, land conflicts with Indigenous and traditional communities, and labor rights abuses.
  • These concerns have fueled consumer campaigns calling for boycotts of products containing palm oil.

Important Points

  • However, the government says land productivity for palm oil is higher than for oilseeds, with the Agriculture Minister giving an assurance that the land identified for oil palm plantations in northeastern States is already cleared for cultivation.
  • The production of palm oil from one hectare is far greater than the production of mustard oil in the same area. 
  • Palm Oil is 55% of India’s edible oil imports, and the new Mission is intended to move towards domestic production and self reliance instead.
  • All five islands are home to tribal communities, including the Jarawa and Onge tribes.  The IIOPR suggested that multi-cropping during the first three years of the oil palm’s life cycle would help provide income before the plantation yields returns from the fourth to seventh years.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have already had some experience with oil palm, including some abandoned plantations on Katchal Island in the Nicobar chain, and a 1,593-hectare area on Little Andaman which was planted more than 35 years ago and abandoned on the instructions of the Supreme Court.
  • According to a feasibility report prepared by the Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research (IIOPR) based on visits to the islands in late 2018, these can be revived and supplemented by plantations in the grasslands.

Application

  • Prelims : Scheme
  • Mains :
  • Palm Oil + Oilseeds
  • Raising Farmers Income
  • Yield Increase
  • Import Reduction + Self Reliance ( Atmanirbhar Bharat)  
  • Biodiversity 
  • Invasive Species 
  • Tribals – Relocation 
  • North – East 

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